Don’t delete! What to do with scenes edited out of your novel.

Stop...don't delete those words from your novel.

Stop…don’t delete those words from your novel.

Whether it’s the first, rough draft of your novel, or your final edit, it’s inevitable that you, or your editor, may want to remove sentences, or scenes. That’s okay. Most likely, it’s necessary. However, whatever you do…don’t delete them. Don’t banish them to that cyberspace eternity, leaving them to dissolve and disappear into some unknown infinity…alone and abandoned.

Instead, protect them and save them in a separate file, reserving them for another time. It’s been helpful for me to follow this practice. I’ve found I have gone back to that file often, always grateful I’d been able to rescue these previously rejected words and place them in their new place, in a new story. 

Often, especially in the case of a first draft where I’ve decided to cut a sentence, or a scene, I’ve retained them on the same file by color coding that section and cutting and pasting it to the last page of the same work-in-progress for another look, later. There have been many times I’ve been able to bring some of these back up into the story in a different context where they fit better and worked well. In all cases, I’d been so pleased to have my writing still available instead of having to try to recreate that sentence, or that scene, the same as it had been written previously. All of you will agree, I’m sure, that once that written thought has been deleted, it’s pretty much impossible to restore it to its original form.

What doesn’t fit here and now may be the perfect fit for your next short story, or novel. Your words were worth their weight in gold to you when they first made their way from your creative mind and became part of your story and they’re valuable. They may have lost their place in this story, but they haven’t lost their worth.

Let me know if you’ve been saving your writing in a similar way. I would think this is a common practice for writers, but would be interested in hearing your thoughts and opinions


2 comments on “Don’t delete! What to do with scenes edited out of your novel.

  1. charityrau says:

    This is great advice. I found use for a scene that I had almost deleted, and I was so thankful I hadn’t deleted it.

  2. etlynch says:

    I do save what I call the effluvia from a novel. But I have also been happy to throw away pages and pages that will never see the light of day.

    […] etlynch […]

Comments are closed.